Stephen Broadbent, 37, Canada
Stephen Broadbent has 10 years experience in e-learning at Pearson Education. He has held roles in business development, direct sales, product management and editorial. He holds B.A.’s in English and Social Psychology, and an MBA, where he focussed on entrepreneurship. Not a bad background to help him create Griti, a peer teaching and mentoring service that connects university and high school students with live personalised learning support online, so they can stay caught up and motivated in their courses.
Stephen came to Barcelona in 2011 to study an MBA at ESADE Business School and afterward chose to start his own business instead of returning a big company. His new venture, called Griti, will work with schools to sponsor learning time for their students as an extension of the support services provided by the school. University students who study traditionally difficult disciplines like math and science often don’t have access to personalised support when they start to struggle. Problems such as large class sizes or maybe a shy attitude can make it harder to learn. Through Griti they can get connected online to a mentor to help them with their immediate problems or to help generally with their learning goals.
In Griti the right mentor is matched with the right student. They meet in an online virtual classroom complete with an interactive whiteboard, video chat, document sharing and all kinds of cool features that let them connect and learn anywhere, anytime.
Through school partnerships Griti helps to make live personalised learning support accessible to more students. They strive to remove many of the administrative and logistical barriers to learning traditionally associated with private tutoring, such as scheduling, payment, finding space, travel and, most importantly, connecting the right student with the right mentor in order to foster valuable learning for both sides.
One of the differences with Griti compared to other distance learning platforms is that it is centred around learning support as opposed to delivering core course content or instruction. This collaborative one-to-one support is the best way to learn. So Griti is not trying to replace existing education systems, online or offline, but it is meant to be a supplement.
Private tutoring has been around for decades to help bridge the learning gap with personalised instruction. But most of the existing systems are inefficient and offline. The prevailing model fails to utilise the potential of modern technologies and education research to promote better, more inclusive learning. In that sense Griti takes something that already exists and makes it more effective and more efficient.
Stephen was attracted to the innovation and just plain cool stuff that so often comes from smaller businesses and startups. And he saw Betahaus as a great place to begin that adventure. “Starting a business can be a solitary experience,” he explains, “It is important and motivating to be surrounded by talented people doing all kinds of different things, to share services, stories and ideas. Betahaus is a hive for this kind of energy”.